Protesters descended on Sacramento's capitol building Tuesday to oppose a bill that would legalize the murder of babies after they're born. Abortion advocates claim that California's Assembly Bill 2223 is meant to protect a mother of a stillborn baby from criminal investigation and prosecution, but pro-life advocates claim the bill's language goes far beyond that.
The bill that would abolish the requirement that coroners investigate stillbirths passed the California Health Committee with an 11-3 vote Tuesday, the day 2,000 to 3,000 people showed up in Sacramento on the steps of the legislative hall to protest the bill.
In Section 7(a), the bill reads, "...a person shall not be subject to civil or criminal... penalty... based on their actions or omissions with respect to... perinatal death due to a pregnancy-related cause."
Hundreds of protesters who oppose the bill pointed to the word "perinatal." Marc T. Little, Executive Director of Cure America Action, Inc., points out that the perinatal period is defined by most dictionaries and doctors as including anywhere from "seven to 28 days after birth."
"They want to protect the mother from prosecution if she decides she doesn't want her baby seven to 28 days after birth," says Little. "That's called legalizing murder. It's called decriminalizing infanticide. That's on the face of the bill."
AB 2223 doesn't stop at legalizing a perinatal baby's murder. In Section 9 (b), it also holds liable "Whoever denies a right protected by this article, or aids, incites or conspires in that denial."
Little confirms that this language can be interpreted by the courts to mean anybody could be held liable if he or she tries to prevent the murder of a perinatal baby or help prosecute a woman for that murder. Under this law, anyone who accuses a woman of murdering her baby during the perinatal period can be held liable for a minimum of $25,000.
Under current law, all fetal deaths at or after 20 weeks, with the exception of abortions, are treated as "unattended deaths" in California, requiring a coroner to investigate.
In 48 of 58 California counties, the sheriff is also the coroner, which means that law enforcement becomes involved and the person who is pregnant could face potential prosecution. That, say groups representing obstetricians and gynecologists, is dangerous and could make pregnant people less likely to seek medical care.
The large turnout and range of ethnicities and denominations represented at the protest was evidence for Little that the opposition to what he calls "the infanticide bill" is uniting believers in California with a wakeup call.
"I don't care if you're a Democrat, Republican, liberal or conservative," he says. "Most people in America are against partial birth abortion. And so you know they're against infanticide."
Jack Hibbs, senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Chino Hills, testified against the bill on Tuesday, saying, "As citizens, we must hold you accountable."
Little encourages everyone to read the bill and not just take his word for it. And in response to those who say murdering babies outside of the womb is not the bill's intent, Little says, "They can call it whatever they want, but if you read it, it's very clear."
You can read the entire bill here.
Rob Vischer is a freelance writer for Charisma News.
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